It’s my dad’s birthday today! I tried giving him a call early this morning but he didn’t answer, so I’ll call back again later.
In lieu of my dad’s birthday, let me tell you more about him…
My dad is the most influential person in my life.
And I mean that in a good and bad way…
Figure this out — I love him…
and I respect him…
but even my being 25 years old…
he still has the power to scare the sh*t out of me.
That’s my dad.
I can talk about my dad for hours, but I figure some stories would do him better justice so that you can see what type of dad I have.
My dad likes to tell stories. Put him in a table full of strangers, and see him impress the socks out of them.
He’d usually ask someone, “Which province are you from?” And rattle off names and stories of politicians he knows who came from the province. And it was not just hear-say. Because he had been active in the Manila Jaycees during his younger years, he had numerous chances to actually work and interact with these politicians even before they were elected in office.
For him, they weren’t anybody special.
They were merely his friends with whom he’d use to hang around and party with after a hard day’s work at Jaycees.
It was really a great ice-breaker though, and my dad is almost always the life of the table, if not a party. Nevertheless, I’ve never realized how special my dad was until I grew older and met my other friends’ fathers.
Imagine my shock when I found out that they were not as talkative or as gregarious as my dad! They looked pale in comparison to him. as most of them were silent beings who merely did their own things. As most Chinese men go, they were usually very quiet and watched TV or read the newspaper.
People who know me see me as an outgoing, talkative woman who is at home in the company of friends and with strangers.
And they’re half-way right — I can come up to a total stranger with confidence and proceed to start a conversation with them, despite their rank or social status. For example, last night, I got the unique chance of talking to the Executive Vice President of one of Taiwan’s leading banks, and was not even a tad bit nervous!
But no matter how good my social skills are, they still pale in comparison to my dad…
Whenever I attend a party with him and he’s not in one of his black moods, my gosh, it’s like watching a master in action. I always complain to my friends about my dad. But I always tell them this as well — my dad can charm the socks off any man if he wants to.
And this is one of the reason why I admire the man.
Whatever I am, is largely influenced by who he is.
My dad likes to tell stories over and over.
And like good kids we were, we’d listen to him tell and retell his stories to strangers and friends.
You get tired of them after a while, but if you’re patient enough, they are quite entertaining as my dad unconsciously adds a detail here and there.
Funny, I find myself doing the same thing nowadays.
I tell the same stories over and over.
I must be getting old.
Anyway, one of dad’s favorite stories was when I was still a baby.
I was in a crib in his room, and I was crying loudly as all babies do.
My mom tried to soothe my tears but I still continued to cry.
My dad got impatient and then proceeded to walk up and turn the TV volume up.
I still continued to cry even louder.
My dad turned the volume up again…
And I cried more and more louder.
It was the battle of the baby and the TV!
Then my dad turned the volume more and more…
until finally, I got tired of crying and stopped.
This is my dad.
When you cry, he is unlike many parents who will pick you up and lull you to sleep.
Instead, think of a strict general. There are rules that must be strictly and harshly followed.
Cry all you want, but you still have to follow those rules.
And you can be stubborn all you want… but you can never beat him when it came to stubborness.
One of the things that I love about my parents is that they were always around.
Because they had their own business, they had the freedom to set up their office anywhere they wanted. And because of the inconvenience caused by traffic, they set it up at home where they can be closer to us kids.
One of the things that I dislike about my parents is that they were always around too.
When we get up to go to school, we needed to go to our parents’ room and kiss them goodbye. Same goes as when we get back… and when we’re back, we needed to do our homework in their room where they can keep an eye of us.
Most kids immediately run to their room, watch TV or do kids stuff.
But not us, my dad ordered that we stay in his room so he can see what we’re doing. I think it’s a way of keeping control… or maybe because he is comforted by our presence.
Anyway, my point is, my dad is a strict disciplinarian.
My gosh, I always tell my friends that I never always got what I wanted… but I always got what I needed.
My half-siblings think I am very lucky to have traveled abroad and get all the finest things in life.
What they don’t see is that we’re not spoiled.
Yes, my brother and I are not domestic beings.
Because we had maids who washed and cleaned after us, we never bothered in learning how to cook, clean, do the laundry and all the other chores most kids were asked to do. In fact, it was my parents’ wish that we merely focus our attention on studies.
For them, it’s better to have good grades than to do the laundry.
If you graduate, get a good job and get rich anyway, you can hire someone else to do it.
My point is, we were not spoiled at all.
Even when I was 21, I had a strict 11PM curfew.
Be 5 or 15 minutes late even with the traffic, and I’ll get a sermon that’ll last me till 3AM!
And boy, can my dad talk… once he gets started, he’s like a broken recorder. Over and over, he’ll go through your faults of today and of 10 years ago. It doesn’t do you any good if you were 5 or 25, everyone gets the same long sermon. 🙁
And God help you if you talk back!
The best way to handle is to just shut up.
Talking back will cost you another hour or two of sermon time.
It’s true — only dad can make me cry in a consistent basis.
There are times after a sermon that I would lock myself up in my room, bawl my eyes out in the bed and ask God why the heck did he give me such a hard, demanding father! Why couldn’t I just have one of those fathers who were weak and not too hard on their children?!
I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to just run away.
It’s THAT hard.
Good thing, my best friend kept me in check telling me to just hang it there. If I ran away or did stupid things, I would only hurt myself.
And nothing is more stupid than hurting yourself to get back at your dad.
At a low point in my life, Mark had said, “Do you know you have a high tolerance for hurt and pain? I think a lot of this has something to do with how your dad treated you when you were growing up. Because he was so hard to you, you are able to develop callouses and handle all the sh*t that’s being thrown at you.” (paraphrased)
My mom said, “XXXX, don’t cry. This is good training for you. Only your dad can bullsh*t you. This helps you deal with other people because no one but your dad can bullsh*t you like this… if you can handle dad, you can handle anyone else. You can take a beating and still stand up strong.“
A lot of who I am is influenced by my dad.
It’s hard to live under his roof — his roof, his rules.
But it’s good training to handle the harshness of the world out there.
Yes, sometimes I hate my dad. But likewise, I love him.
He is far from being perfect.
But at least, he tries… in his own imperfect way, to be a good father to my brother and I.
Happy Birthday Dad.